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Top 10 Popular Cambodian Street Food You Want to Try

18:04 | 18/08/2022

Top 10 Popular Cambodian Street Food You Want to Try

Cambodian street food offers unique and surprising delicacies that are foreign for most visitors. The street food in Cambodia is not for the squeamish travelers.

That said, Cambodian street food from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap offers an authentic culinary adventure, a taste of the “real” Cambodia.

As you dive deeper into the Khmer street food culture, there are many gems and wonderful delicacies to discover.

After exploring the local food specialties in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, we’ve put together this guide for your culinary travels.

Here are our top 10 Cambodian street food you want to try.

1- Lort Cha – Cambodian Short Stir-Fry Egg Noodles

Simple and delicious Lort Cha street food in Cambodia

Lort cha is one of the most popular Cambodian street food. It is a stir-fried dish consisting of Lort which are short fat rice noodles, with bean sprouts, chinese broccoli, and chives. 

Generally, it is cooked with beef and topped with a fried egg.

For flavor, lort cha is traditionally served with a thick red sauce which is sweet and spicy. And if you want more spice, you can add red chilies to your dish.

Lort Cha street vendor at Kandal Market in Phnom Penh

You can find Lort cha vendors on the streets or at the markets in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. Lort cha is typically prepared on a food cart in a large stir-fried pan. 

We had this dish several times in Cambodia and enjoyed it best at the local markets. 

It is easy to spot the vendor as you see them cooking in real-time. Look for vendors where locals are eating or stopping by for take-away. This is a sign of good and safe food.

This is a very tasty dish with a nice amount of vegetables and a great mix of protein. 

It is no wonder it is such a popular Cambodia street food and is a definite must-try while visiting the country. 

The “Classic” from Nompang sandwich shop

You will quickly recognize this familiar Vietnamese ingredient in Cambodia, the baguette. Brought by the French during the Indochina colonization period, Cambodia calls it Num pang.

This sandwich is typically served with meaty ingredients such as pate, ham or pork. It is generally topped with cucumber, carrots, chives, and onions.

Num Pang, typical Cambodian Sandwich

Num pang street food vendors and their carts can be found outside of markets or near office buildings. They are easy to spot with the baguettes exposed on their carts.

If you want to try a modern twist on this classic street food sandwich, Nompang, a newly opened chain in Phnom Penh offers an interesting selection of sandwiches. 

We recommend the Classic which consists of red pork and ham. Made with quality ingredients, it is excellent and quite filling.

The interior of Nom Pang sandwich shop in Phnom Penh

They have several Nompang locations in Phnom Penh. The one we went to is listed below.

Num Pang, street vendor in Siem Reap

In Siem Reap, we recommend the local market called Pho Langka Market. There you will find one dedicated vendor selling only these Khmer sandwiches. 

We had the classic pâté sandwich, which we enjoyed immensely. This Khmer street food was tasty with slightly sweet and sour flavors.

Cambodian bamboo sticky rice with black beans

Bamboo sticky rice, known as Kralan in Khmer, is a type of sticky rice roasted in bamboo sticks. 

It is made of sticky rice mixed with black beans, grated coconut and coconut milk. The mixture is packed into a bamboo stick and slowly roasted over a charcoal fire until cooked.

We first discovered bamboo sticky rice dessert in Thailand and really enjoyed it. In Cambodia, we learned that the rice used in bamboo sticky rice is a special kind of fragrant rice coming from terraced rice fields of Battambang, Kratie Provinces.

The taste is sweet and slightly salty with hints of smoky flavors. It is quite a delicious and filling snack. And, a fun and playful street food to unravel. 

Bamboo sticky rice vendor in Siem Reap

The city of Battambang in the northwest region of the country is popular for bamboo sticky rice. It is Cambodia’s  leading rice producing province in the country.

While we didn’t personally visit the city, the sticky rice from here comes highly recommended as the area is referred to as “sticky rice villages” by locals. 

In Siem Reap, around the Angkor Wat World Heritage Site, you will find ladies on bicycles selling bamboo sticky rice. 

Feel free to approach any one of them and enjoy this sweet roasted Cambodian dessert. The sticky rice is sold in three sizes, small, medium and large.

Try fresh water snails from street vendor in Phnom Penh

One of the striking things we noticed when we arrived in Phnom Penh were street vendors with long flat carts on wheels. 

These carts are strategically placed under the hot burning sun loaded with freshwater snails. The snails are seasoned and cooked prior to being dried under the sun.

The snails are spiced with red chili sauce or with garlic and salt. A popular snack, snails are sold by the bucketful or a smaller cup size.

To eat this street food safely, you want to make sure all the snails are thoroughly cooked. Most vendors will let you try a sample first before indulging in more.

Chives cakes at a local market in Siem Reap

One of the popular Cambodia street foods you will see everywhere are street vendors selling small chive cakes on bicycles. 

These Cambodian chive cakes are fried in shallow pans, and made with glutinous rice flour and served with a sweet spicy fish sauce.

Chive cakes, also known as Num Kachay, are a popular Cambodian street food originating from China. 

While the ingredients are simple, the taste is surprisingly delicious.

They are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. When dipped into a sweet spicy fish sauce, the flavors blend together perfectly in the mouth. 

This was one of our favorite Cambodian street foods.

Where to Eat Chive Cakes

Close up of chive cakes with sweet, spicy fish sauce

You will find mobile street vendors with Chives pretty much everywhere. Look for the vendors at busy street corners in the afternoons.  Chive cakes can also be found cooking at the local markets.

In general, chive cakes are sold hot, reducing the risk of getting sick. And, you can buy them by the piece, at about 500 Riel (approx $0.12 USD) per chive cake.

Fried bread and shrimp cake at Central Market in Phnom Penh

At the local markets in Siem Reap, we were struck by the abundance of fried bread and shrimp cakes. 

You see vendors at various stalls bending over the hot flames to produce golden, crispy French bread topped with delicious fried shrimp.

After being tempted by one particular vendor’s freshly cooked batch, we bought some for lunch.

While we typically do not enjoy fried foods, we were surprisingly delighted.  

The cakes were delicious. And with the bread soaking in the fat, you are left with the taste of perfectly spiced shrimp. 

After that first tasty experience, we happily bought the shrimp cakes several times again.

Let your taste buds go wild and try this unique street food in Cambodia.

Fried shrimp cake at the Pho Langka Market in Siem Reap

Look for the friendly ladies with large deep fryers at the outdoor food stalls at the Pho Langka Market in Siem Reap.

Try a freshly cooked batch and expect to pay between 500 100 Riel (approx $0.12 – $0.25 USD) per cake.

Worms and crickets at Boeung Keng Kang Market in Phnom Penh

Worms and crickets are probably two of the most popular bugs you will find in Cambodia, in addition to red tree ants. 

Yes, you will also find edible spiders and scorpions though we found these multi-legged arachnids to be more popular amongst tourists than with locals.

And, honestly, worms and crickets were far more enticing, in our opinion, than trying spiders and scorpions. 

The taste was surprising. We found the worms to be soft with a slight crunchy skin and a nice nutty flavor. 

While the crickets were definitely crunchier and meatier. This reminded us of eating grasshoppers or chapulines in Mexico.

Whether you choose worms or crickets, they are both unique and tasty and a great source of protein.

Street vendors can be found  selling different types of insects at the local markets. They are typically grilled and sold in large baskets that might contain different kinds of bugs. 

These traditional delicacies are sold by the can or cupful. Plan to spend about 4,000 Riel (approx $0.98 USD) per can.

If eating bugs at the market doesn’t tempt you, there are a few restaurants that offer insects on their menu. 

In Phnom Penh, you can try Romdeng restaurant. And if you are in Siem Reap, you can order a snack platter at Bugs Cafe in Siem Reap. 

Both these restaurants offer many more options on their menu beyond the insects.

Typical grilling atmosphere on the streets of Cambodia

Street food barbecue is quite common and popular in Cambodia. In our article about the surprising facts about the food in Cambodia, we mention how anything and everything is grilled.

 At dusk, vendors pop up around the markets and on busy streets, grilling various dishes for dinner. 

For a seafood barbecue, go for the grilled squid. Served with chili sauce, the squid is as delightful as it is impressive in size.

Where to Cambodian Street Food Barbecue

Grilling delicious giant squid

It is easy to find barbecue street food in Cambodia. Simply walk around any of the local markets after 6:00 pm or after the markets close.

Look for the vendors selling squid from their street cards. Pick a popular one and have them barbecue the squid for you. 

If you want to try the grilled squid during the day, your best bet will be at the markets.

Pieces of Khmer sweet sausages with cucumber slices

Pork is quite popular in making sweet Khmer sausages known as kwah ko (ត្វារគោ). On street carts around the local markets are vendors with different types of pork sausages hanging off their carts.

These sausages are sold either as skewers or wrapped into small sausage balls. 

After seeing how popular the sausages were with locals, we bought one sausage to try.  The red color and the taste surprised us. 

The sausages were very sweet and quite fatty.  We later learned that the sausages are made with palm sugar and composed of half pork and half fat.

Personally, we were not fans of the sweet taste of the sausages, however, locals seemed to enjoy them with a cold glass of beer.

Where to Eat Sweet Khmer Sausages

Tempting sweet pork sausages at Psar Chas, the Old Market in Siem Reap

The local markets are your best bet for the best street food in Cambodia. And, to try the sweet Khmer sausages, we also recommend visiting the markets.

Look for the street carts around the local markets with sausages hanging from their stalls. You’ll easily pick out the Khmer sausage by its distinctive red coloring.

Expect to pay about 500 Riel (approx $0.12 USD) per sausage.

Stopping for coffee to go in the afternoon in Phnom Penh

Small coffee carts are a common sight in the Kingdom of Cambodia. These carts are typically sidecars pulled by motorcycles or converted tuk-tuks. 

Iced coffee, or gah-fay dteuk-gork in the Khmer language, is a sweet and refreshing popular drink with locals.

It is Cambodia’s drip coffee served with condensed milk. Sweet and strong, the coffee can be served black with ice, or with condensed milk for an even sweeter taste. 

Rosemary, a coffee drinker preferred it with condensed milk. The rapidly melting ice cubes dilute the strength of the coffee and the sugar making it much more tolerable.

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